Saturday, September 14, 2019

Discovering Climate Truth

Whenever someone questions how we feel about climate change, we may be hard pressed to offer a coherent statement to satisfy the questioner. In our day we are confronted by a plethora of conflicting truth claims on the climate issue. Many of these truth claims spring from ubiquitous references to climate change we encounter in everyday modern life. The issue generates anxiety among many of today’s residents. Moderate anxiety ascends to catastrophic fear in some citizens, driven by politicians who wish to force their climate agenda on the public. Currently, the presidential primary season has revealed that a vast majority of candidates of one major party has installed climate change as a paramount platform issue. Readers may be confronted by questions: What is your view? What guides your thinking and belief on the climate change issue? What is true?

We return to the subject of truth claims. Truth theory is not very often a subject of everyday discussion. Citizens should be cognizant of many types of truth in connection with the observation that “climate change is real.” Of course, virtually everyone agrees that climate change is real. Climate has been changing from time immemorial—a very long time! The truth of propositions related to climate change beyond the above statement that “climate change is real” should be analyzed carefully. 

Over a dozen categories of truth are described in literature. A majority of truth seekers subscribe to a category called correspondence truth, one of five primary categories of truth. It signifies truth which corresponds to reality, corresponds to the way the world is, corresponds to facts, and describes the actual state of affairs. The truth that “climate change is real” is an indisputable example of correspondence truth. Beyond our agreement that the correspondence truth of this statement is undeniable, the main issues surrounding the strident advocacy of climate change remediation fall far short of correspondence truth. We briefly discuss four other categories of truth below:

Consensus truth: Shaped by agreement within a specified group

Constructionist truth: Shaped by social or community forces

Coherence truth: Shaped by coherence (fitting together) of multiple sets of propositions or beliefs

Pragmatic truth: Shaped and confirmed by practical results or effects

Most progressive political activists propose aggressive remediation. Their advice is based on the overpowering belief that climate change has profoundly negative current effects and that scientific models accurately predict future catastrophic conditions. They believe their suggestions for remediation justify the spending of trillions of dollars to phase out recovery, processing, and use of almost all carbon-based fuels in the future.

Such startling controversial proposals, not only in the United States, but among most of the nations of the world, have their origins in errant or inadequate thinking concerning truth. The concept of truth or truth theory has not been stressed in our culture. With respect to climate change and numerous other life issues, appropriate conclusions about truth gravitate away from correspondence truth and stray toward the many other categories of truths outlined above—consensus, constructionist, coherence, and pragmatic. For example, if we all agree that “climate change is real,” we must not assert that interpretations of cause or suggestions for remediation will hold equal truth value in determining our course of action.

On climate change issues, we may ask if oft-repeated statements like “the science tells us that…” actually point to scientists’ discovery of truth in the area of climate. This statement is a source of misunderstanding of truth. The practice of science offers, according to one source, “accurate and reliable explanations.” Science is not a search for truth. Neither is science a “body of truth.” Rather, science is an activity, a systematic method of study of the physical and natural world. Sometimes we extend  the usage of the term to a particular branch of study—agricultural science, for example.

We leave our readers with heartfelt recommendations: Read all you can about  weather and climate. Affirm that your grandparents and great-grandparents endured many extreme weather events that rival events occurring today. Consult scientists on all sides of the divisive climate change issue. Discover how our weather and climate systems are miracles of wondrous complexity. Study how destructive weather events are relatively rare and in the long term may contribute to the general health of our climate system. Attest that Planet Earth is a God-provided place to thrive.

In dozens of posts since we began to address Earth’s climate system and offer commentary on weather and climate change, we have attempted to uplift our readers with thankfulness for Earth’s resources. We are confident our Creator provides for the welfare of Earth’s billions of residents and that He supplies wisdom for human stewardship of the creation. We link one early post from 9/15/12. The last paragraph relates to our current post’s discussion of truth. We quote from it: “God’s people in science or in any other profession must search out and apply truth concerning the natural world. The discovery of truth is an achievable goal of awesome responsibility. When scientists disagree on a matter of great import to humanity such as the multidimensional climate change issue, the stakeholders share responsibility and culpability to search out what is true and what is false and act accordingly.”







Friday, September 6, 2019

Climate Change: Separating Blame from Cause

Our climate change discussion begins with recollection of two different undergraduate electives offered by my university more than a half-century ago. Their one-word course titles caught my eye—meteorology and climatology. As a childhood resident of Central New York, weather had always provided a source of interest. The six-month transition from plentiful winter snow near Syracuse, NY, followed by that region’s lazy, hazy days of summer left a lasting impression. Mid latitude meteorological variety is still ingrained in my conscious preference.

Climatology was a logical sequel to meteorology. I devoured both courses—meteorology as a discussion of short-term atmospheric conditions such as temperature, precipitation, wind, and humidity among other topics; climatology as a manifestation of average long-term weather conditions. Searching my memory for instructional strategies, I recall that the presentation was straightforward and positive. There was no political or economic agenda. Climate was not mentioned in any negative sense. Possibly, the term “climate change” was not even mentioned.

Who has not noticed that weather and climate discussions now often merge with a pejorative comment? Climate, a fascinating planetary system worthy of awe, wonder, and diligent study, is often linked with the concept of change. We are now overly focused on climate change. Of course climate is changeable and has been changeable since the creation of our physical planetary system. Climate changeability is a positive component of dynamic planetary adaptability which acts most often for the benefit of Earth’s living creatures. 

As we compose this post, destructive Hurricane Dorian is wreaking havoc along the US east coast. Some commentators waste no time blaming its destructive power on anthropogenic (human caused) climate change. They conflate destructive climate change and anthropocentrism—the view that humans are the predominant species on Earth. Many modern radical environmentalists blend anthropocentrism, biocentrism, and ecocentrism. These observations are currently the source of confusion about our view of the created world and how humans manage its resources for their own benefit. There have been mighty hurricanes in North America for multiple thousands of years, long before European discovery of the New World. Humans should not be blamed for causing greater intensity or frequency of weather events such as hurricanes.

Scientists attempt to discover causes of natural events including meteorological and climatological events. We must be aware of the difference between assignment of blame or cause with respect to the broad spectrum of changing weather and climate. Are humans to blame for climate change, particularly harmful global warming? Many alarmists claim we are. The production of CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels receives substantial blame for climate change. But there are hundreds of other causes which result in perceived positive as well as occasional negative impacts. Climate catastrophists place the primary blame on man for his recent discovery and use of fossil fuels. Some go so far as to propose the phase-out of fossil fuels. How have Earth’s billions of residents (7.7 billion in 2019) responded for its energy needs in the past 150 years? Some demographic analysts react with fear; others perceive our home satellite with joyful optimism, thanking God for His generous provision of energy resources, and calling Planet Earth “a place to thrive!” 

Believers in the Creator must approach the blame/cause issue with divine wisdom which comes only from above.